there has always been this allure of arriving at a destination in the dark, especially a place i've never been to before. watching the morning sun illuminate what lay before me on this trip was astonishing. my eyes were greeted with an almost mystical fog cloaked ozark mountains range.
arkansas was new to me, never before had i spent anytime in "the natural state" so all day was spent exploring any back road i could find. by the time i finally reached where i wanted to camp that night i was hot, sweaty and probably a little dehydrated.
the hike to the spot was not necessarily hard but i left my tent in my truck heeding the signs that advised against camping. much to the dismay of my weary feet as soon as i made the hike i saw a tent set up right near the edge of the cliff, so i turned around and headed back to get my gear. after making it back to the overlook the second time i saw a group of three people sitting there taking in the view. in a some what joking manner i walked up to them and said "hey you guys don't have any beer do you?" to which they responded "no but we have boxed wine if you want some."
i spent the rest of the night with these folks right there on the edge of the overlook. we shared stories about our lives and past travels. they taught me more than i'll ever need to know about rock climbing and all the technical terms that go along with the sport. we poked fun at my unnatural obsession for all things pumpkin spiced. one of them, justin, a fellow photographer, and i spent time trying our hand at astrophotography. we set up our tents and cooked dinner in the dark. and we spent hours laying on our backs marveling at the milky way stringing itself through the sky above us.
the next morning justin and i woke up in the dark to watch the sun rise while the others stayed in their tent. we snapped photos of the yellow and purple hues as the landscape below us was slowly lit. after some coffee and breakfast i handed my phone to him so he could type in his number. he looked at me, "i'm going to be honest with you, i can't see your phone. i'm nearly blind, i can see your outline but that's about it."
i didn't believe him. i looked to his friends waiting for them to chuckle, but there was no laugh. justin lost most of his vision at the age of fourteen and is considered legally blind.
**justin took this photo of me**
i inquisitively started asking him a thousand questions. he explained to me all of the things he does to navigate this world created for the sighted. and i started to pick up on all of these tiny things he had been doing that only gave it away after he had mentioned it. i don't know if there has been a time in my life i have ever been more humbled.
think about that for a moment, justin is blind but he is still out there doing, enjoying, pushing himself and taking amazing photographs along the way.
so here is to the people you meet out there in this big wide world if you allow yourself to. the people who can make a lasting impact on you. to the people who do so just by being themselves and nothing more. people like justin.
"humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."